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Is I-40 widening project complete?

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Is I-40 widening project complete? | Interstate 40, construction, TDOT

The newly widened sections of I-40 / Dallus Whitfield photo

Only minor work remains to be done to fully complete a road widening project on Interstate 40 between Mt. Juliet Road to just past Highway 109 that began in July 2013, but fell behind schedule mainly due to Mother Nature.

That was the word Thursday from Heather Jensen, Region 3 community relations officer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Jensen noted she drove along the roadway yesterday and saw workers doing “incidental work on the shoulders” but that all paving and striping of the newly widened section have been completed.

The $55.5 million design-build project widened the roadway in the eastbound and westbound lanes from four lanes to eight lanes. It was to be completed in December 2013 but fell behind initially due to too much rainfall.

Officials with Lane Construction, the Connecticut-based company awarded the bid for the project, reached out to TDOT in December seeking an extension. They “requested an extension,” she said, due to “a catastrophic weather event.” In other words, the project was slowed by the large amount of rain that fell this past winter.

TDOT granted the extension, but when it was determined that the company would not meet its new deadline for completion, the state fined the firm for each day the work was not finished.

“We try to cut them a little slack,” Jensen said, explaining that TDOT officials understand the weather cannot be controlled, but when they learned the work would continue past the new completion date, the fines were implemented.

“We couldn’t tolerate that. We do hold them accountable,” she added.

Drivers along the roadway, traveling east and west, have likely noticed some differences the project brought, including wider striping for the HOV, or High Occupancy Vehicle, lanes; new signage and additional space to pull over off the shoulders at various intervals in case of an emergency.

The wider stripes and new signage, pointing out the HOV lane requirements and ones that say “Inherently Low Emission Vehicles Allowed” were installed to keep the state “in line with federal guidelines.”

As for when the next phase of continuing to widen a 3-mile section of I-40 from Hwy. 109 to State Route 840 to eight lanes will begin, Jensen referred to TDOT’s three-year plan which includes right-of-way purchases to be made in fiscal year 2015. “However,” she said, “construction is not yet funded.”

In the meantime, TDOT Commissioner John Schroer will visit Wilson County on Monday, July 14, as part of the statewide “2014 TDOT Projects Tour.” He and TDOT officials will be traveling by bus throughout the state, meeting with state and local leaders and viewing projects under way or set to begin and talking with them about their concerns.

 Schroer and others are to arrive in Lebanon from Trousdale County and have lunch at Sammy B’s at The Mill at Lebanon. They will then meet at the Lebanon Wilson Chamber of Commerce office where they may see some renderings of the new safety redesign work planned for the Square. Jensen said an announcement regarding bids on the project may be made on Monday.

From the Chamber office, the commissioner and others will take a tour of the plant at LoJac Materials on Toshiba Drive.

Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at news@wilsonpost.com.

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